How to Beat the 2018 Instagram Algorithm Like a Boss

01.25.18

fashionlush, 2018 instagram algorithmhow to beat the instagram algorithm in 2018

Let’s get real- Instagram stresses me the eff out. Making sure the feed is cohesive, coming up with captions that promote engagement, not forgetting about insta-storying throughout the day, & then there is the nasty little algorithm that’s got everyone’s panties in a bunch.

My boyfriend is the king of staying on top of Instagram trends & was spewing off facts on how the algorithm has changed in 2018. FABULOUS, once I *thought* I sort of had a grasp on things, Instagram switches things up on us. It feels like they never want us to understand how they function, but I am not gonna let a year go by to finally figure it out all over again.

Yes, there has been changes to the Instagram algorithm in 2018, & yes- I am gonna try my best to decode it! I have been researching like a boss, but for things to really stick in my memory, I gotta write it out. SO, that’s what I am doing, because I damn well know I am not the only one pulling my hair out over trying to beat the algorithm.

metallic fashion trend 2018, fashionlush

Here’s the deal, in a nutshell: when you post something on Instagram, it is only shown to 10% of your readers. If the post does well with that 10% right off the bat, then it will get shown to the other 90%- which is why some posts do GREAT & others, not so much.

Mind you, before I begin with tips on how to master this year’s algorithm changes, the research I have done doesn’t necessarily come from Instagram directly as they don’t spill their secrets. All of this is “word on the street” info, but considering how crazy people are about Instagram (myself included), I am trusting what I’ve read.

At the end of the day, it’s all about making sure your WELL THOUGHT OUT Insta content is not being buried & is getting the most exposure/engagement possible!

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How to Beat the Instagram Algorithm in 2018

i. DON’T BE A WALLFLOWER

to get engagement, you have to give it. Comments are the pot of gold at the end of the Instagram rainbow. Although, if you’re not replying to those comments, not only are you not showing your readers love- but this will give you an algorithm ding. Think of comments like a conversation. You wouldn’t ignore a friend if they asked you where you got your sunnies. So don’t ignore your readers either! If the comment isn’t a question & doesn’t require a response, heart it. Show the Instagram gods your there, your aware, & your conversating!

Also, timeliness matters! Keep your responses quick within the first hour of posting! The slower your response time, your exposure will decrease.

Which brings me to comment pods. Comment pods are a hack blogger’s came up with to make sure they are getting seen & I am not anti-comment pods. I don’t find it cheating & I have been in a comment pod or two myself (but never more than one at any given time). With the ever changing algorithm & the non-chronological posting order on the feed, people’s content is never getting seen at all & if there is a work around to increase exposure- why wouldn’t you do it? With comment pods, it’s not about having 100 comments, it’s about making sure your content isn’t getting buried

BUT- in 2018, it’s time to leave your comment pod. Instagram caught on, & this can cause you to get shadow banned. Same goes for comment bots- if a comment is below 4 words (i.e. “nice pic!”), Instagram doesn’t count that as real engagement. I know, that blows for the number of comments your getting. Just look at the bright side- all of these changes are meant to promote more AUTHENTIC engagement.

iii. CAPTION GAME STRONG

Gone are the days where an emoji was a sufficient caption (unless you’re a Kardashian). Captions need to be engaging AF to increase the authentic comments on your account! I talked a bit about micro-blogging on the gram here, so if you haven’t read it yet, you should!! Also, rumor has it, editing your caption within the first 24 hours is also a ding in the algorithm.

Then comes the hashtags. I always post hashtags in the first comment of my posts, but in 2018 you have to be very specific with your hashtagging ways so that Instagram doesn’t see it as spam (cause spamming will get you shadow banned!). You will have better luck with 10 super specific hashtags than 30 generic ones.

I am in a bind with this one because I have set hashtags for each different kind of post that I just copy & paste (with minor adjustments, depending on the post), but the key now is to switch up your hashtags. Don’t paste the same ones every time & put some in the actual caption itself. I love hiding my hashtags, but some people are saying commented hashtags aren’t making it to the search pages.

Another tip- you can now FOLLOW HASHTAGS & Instagram really likes when you utilize their new features, so follow dem hashtags kiddos.

iii. STAY ON TOP OF STORIES

I know, getting a post up is hard enough work as it is, but now stories are playing a big roll in this algorithm as well. Keep posting, and when people reply to your stories, try to respond in a timely manner!

Also, be sure to tag locations & use hashtags in stories! All of these small details can give you a big boost. Another good tip is to shoutout other bloggers in your stories- when they message you back & you interact, it shows Instagram you are authentically engaging with people & that’s what this whole algorithm shift is all about. AUTHENTICITY.

iv. GO BACK TO BASICS (& BE REAL!!)

Think back to when Instagram first started, you’d get on & just look to see what other people were up to. It wasn’t about signing on solely to see how your post did, it was about catching up with old friends & seeing what was going on with their lives.

This is how Instagram wants to work. They don’t want you to be a selfish Instagram user only signing on to post photos & check analytics.

I can easily get distracted when I get on Instagram. By the time I am done posting a picture/replying to comments or messages/checking how well a post did, I sign off & forgot to even look at anyone else’s content. I am not intentionally being selfish, but just trying to get to my email inbox. This is a no go. Sometimes you gotta just get on Instagram to interact with the people you follow.

If I didn’t already say this, here it is again. Instagram want’s us to be acting more like real people. They want to see us conversating with each other in a real way. So, although you’ve got to get up that epic selfie you took, take a minute to just explore a bit & leave GENUINE real comments. It doesn’t matter how many followers someone has, if you like a photo, comment!!! Don’t do it just to get your name on a big bloggers photo, do it cause you mean it.

v. NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE AN #AD OR #SPON

Okay, & here we are again with the whole authenticity push. SURE, Amazon should be working with me considering how much I rave about them on my Instagram account, but they aren’t & that doesn’t stop me from authentically sharing my latest Amazon score of the week. More of that, less #ads.

Share things, or people, you actually stand behind on both Instagram & Insta-stories, & always always give credit by tagging that brand or person. Not only will this show Instagram you’re being your realest & just a good Instagram citizen (lol), but it will increase engagement cause REAL recognizes REAL. Ya feel?

In the same regard, if someone shares something from you, don’t let it go unnoticed! If you’re tagged in a photo, or 100 photos a day, pop in to say thank you!

vi. STOP POSTING JUST TO POST

I have lately been noticing a lot of big bloggers decreasing their posting amounts. Instead of three a day, it’s gone down to one a day. Or even one every three days… but when they post, it’s DAMN good content.

We all have our moments when we don’t want to get out of our pajamas or straighten our hair (me more than others I am pretty sure), but instead of stressing yourself out & posting a recycled photo… hold off & wait until you come up with something you’re proud of. Maybe it’s the law of attraction on this one, but the more excited you are about what you are posting, the more engagement it will receive & just for good measure- ENGAGEMENT is the key to beating the Instagram algorithm.

decoding the instagram algorithm, fashionlush

wearing:

House of Harlow x Revolve Slaine metallic blazer | Frame black ‘Le Skinny’ jeans | black cropped tank (similar) | Public Desire fishnet sock boots | black oval sunglasses | gold lion belt (vintage- similar) | the Fashionlush collection ‘Linda’ evil eye necklace & ‘Whitney’ angel lariat

the edit | metallic moment

[ PHOTOS BY ARIELLE LEVY ]

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  • Thanks so much for your tips! I love how you’re so willing to share them with us and I’m personally really grateful. Love your blog! :)
    x
    http://www.latteandluxe.com

  • Alina Elena Calugaru

    yes this is annoying as f..k but we have to do it, nicely written. thanks for the enlightenment, love your writing style
    :D Instagram @alynushea love

    • thank you Alina!! (& yes- sooo annoying!!)

  • Teah Iosebashvili

    Thank you for this! I took your advise and posted what I felt was authentic

  • Tia Johnson

    Thanks for the information. It can be overcome to keep up with the algorithm.

  • Juhita

    I agree with you that authenticity is the key to Instagram now. We need to show Instagram that we are real people there to enjoy and engage with others.

  • JESSICA BROWNE

    This is really helpful my love! Instagram is screwing up all erugh! Glad I found your blog! https://j-anne.co/ xx

    • Thank you Jessica!! So happy to have you as a new reader <3

  • Hey girl! Just wanted to let you know that I HAD to link to your article! Here’s the blog: https://www.afitandfabulousmichele.com/instagram-algorithm-self-care-happy/

  • I love this post! It was really helpful, and I love the way your write. In the first few weeks of the year, I noticed that my engagement on Instagram was decreasing, but I couldn’t figure out why. It can get a bit disheartening when you put so much time into something. Then I found out Instagram changed their algorithm again, and I was doing some of the things you mentioned not to do in 2018. Thanks!

    • Thank you babe!!! I totally feel yea- hopefully the tips help you (& me!!). definitely feeling the engagement decrease :(

  • Cassie Lyn

    Thanks for the tips!!!! Super helpful <3

  • Anna Marschik

    Thank you for your Information. It is really really helpful 😘

  • Thanks for this, super insightful! Trying to up my Instagram game and this will certainly help!

  • Super helpful post! x
    Marveling-Mind☀ | Instagram | Bloglovin’

  • Nadine EidalunVoitto

    thank you for putting so much effort into writing this to help others. I was looking this up because my first post of this years got almost twice as much as all my previous posts before in only five days. But now it all makes sense. I care more for my dear followers then myself so I don’t post often because it takes hours daily only to reply to everything. I never cared that others who post only for themself (or even do the annoying follow/unfollow thing) got much more engagement with less effort. But now I’m more then thankful about the new algorithm that loyalty finally pays off. Stories are still annoying though.

    • I totally feel ya- so glad you liked the post! xo

  • Ahmed Shehata

    It’s very nice! Thank you so much for your efforts and time taken to breakdown everything and make it clear for us!

  • John

    Interesting article. Good enough to get me to read the entire thing on my phone. Which is rare, because I hate reading off my phone.

  • I’ve read a lot of different articles about the new algorithm change and yours by far is the best! I always share to my blogger community to keep posting on your blog and get email subscribers bc you own it. Social media platforms can go away later. Look at FB Pages, slowly going to be fazed out. I’m following you on IG now. Love your content! xx, Maria
    http://savvynista.com

    • Thank you so much babe!!!

    • Thank you so much doll- so glad to have you as a follower now!! xoxox

  • Ryan Petit

    I have been freaking out, because I am a small instagramer and YouTuber, I can only post so much and now that I noticed that I can’t get as many likes as I once had, it’s annoying. You blog post helped so much. Thank you!
    -Ryan Petit
    @RyanAlexandra.Petit

  • Janel Funck

    Thanks for this info! Super helpful!

  • Raegan

    This was so helpful. Thank you!!

  • jillian pfeiffer

    Great post! I really try to be authentic and engaging with my followers (even tho I’m still a baby blogger) and I’m glad people are getting credit for that!

  • Kaieteur_Canada

    Whats this nonsense changing my cursor and scrollbar…? you think its kewl?

  • Joelle

    I loved this post! Thank you so much for sharing what you found, it was incredibly helpful!!

  • Zinny

    Thanks for sharing these tips. Instagram can be so time consuming and so deserves some engagement. I’m always trying to figure out ways to improve and these tips were helpful. Wish you an amazing day!

    www,zinnyfactor.com

  • Sam

    please invest in a dictionary app. or grammar check your work before you publish it. ‘conversating’ is not a word.

  • Didi Chu

    Omg this was so helpful and really is inspiring me to be more authentic.

  • Mahima

    This post is really helpful :) thanks xoxo!

    • you’re welcome babe- glad you liked it!

  • Yuvan Aves

    Thank you! Found the article quite instructive…

  • This is just what I needed to read 🙂 I’m a relatively new blogger and my engagement has plunged since the new algorithm. Thanks for the great pearls of wisdom 😋 x

  • Jessica Jackson

    Great article. I’m looking into using IG for my business, so this was really eye-opening regarding the new changes. It’s funny to me that one of the new changes was to decrease the use of #ads while at the same time there’s more “sponsored” posts than ever? But I suppose that’s the point =P

  • this was such an informative post! thank you for taking the time to write it! what is your thought on international loops and giveaways?

    • i am not opposed!! if they are legitimate & all blogger’s have the same target audience, I think they can definitely help!

  • Noah

    I have a meme page, and I do all kinds of engagement stuff, as in, I talk to a lot of my followers, respond and like all comments, and comment and like other photos, and I do use those comment pods, but most of the ones I’m in have a 4+ word comment rule, so are those kinds of pods okay? Also, in spite of seemingly doing everything right, I’m still growing really slowly

    • it definitely takes time- and this algorithm shift seems to be slowing things down! As far as I know- as long as your not sending images to the pod (instead saying “new post”) you should be good! I also have been hearing a lot about Telegram for pods!!

  • Thank you so much for these tips! Although the new algorithm is making it hard to gain new followers, I’m glad that Instagram is giving more priority to real relationships. :D

  • wow, this post was so insightful! Thank you for sharing your tips. This algorithm thing stresses me out and I feel like I’ve got it now!!!

    • so glad to hear that! thanks for reading <3

  • thanks babe!!! xoxo